Doug Jones is a ‘Kelpien’ – New Species in “Star Trek Discovery”

Saru is Kelpien, a prey species on his home world (CBS All Access)

Kelpiens Sense the Coming of Death

CBS recently released a trailer for the upcoming television series Star Trek Discovery.  In the trailer, we’re introduced to a character named Saru, played by actor Doug Jones.

Not much was revealed in the trailer other than that Saru can “sense the coming of death”.  With so few details to go on, Star Trek fans began questioning whether or not Saru’s species would fit in with traditional Star Trek aliens, or if Discovery was going in a new direction.  Fantasy instead of science fiction.  NCC-1031.COM even wrote an opinion-editorial piece entitled Archetypal Aliens expressing concerns.

Jones and Berg Open Up

Today actor Doug Jones and series writer/producer and showrunner Gretchen J. Berg spoke a bit about the species that Saru belongs to.  They revealed that Saru’s species is known as the Kelpiens, and that they are not the dominant species to evolve on their planet.  No word yet on what that species is, but we do know they are predators and that the Kelpiens are hunted by them – and for a long time.  So long, in fact, that the Kelpiens have evolved to possess unique abilities, including heightened senses when it comes to death.

What we can tell you that adds context to that clip where he says he can sense the coming of death is that he comes from a planet where he’s a ‘prey species.’ He’s the first of his kind to make it to Starfleet” reveals Berg.

Star Trek has touched upon the concept of multiple intelligent species evolving on a planet, and what types of societies would be built.  Everything from slavery and subjugation, to hunter and hunted, to the diversity of abilities, and more.  But no major Star Trek character has ever come from a planet where more than one species evolved to become intelligent.

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Saru

In Star Trek: The Original Series, the character of Spock quickly became a fan favorite.  So much that Spock has entered the common lexicon.

When The Next Generation aired, Lieutenant Commander Data became the Spock of that series.  Data was followed by Odo in Deep Space Nine, the Doctor in Voyager and T’Pol in Enterprise.  In Star Trek Discovery, Saru is slated to carry the flame.

Doug Jones tells us that “Saru is the Spock of the series, he’s the Data of the series – and those are beloved characters that I always connect with whenever I would watch the past incarnations of Star Trek”.

Jones is certainly not new to playing aliens, or spending time in the makeup chair.  He’s played in movies such as Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Pam’s Labyrinth, and Hellboy – all of which he was in full makeup.

Star Trek Discovery airs this September 24th on CBS All Access (USA), Space/CraveTV (Canada), and Netflix on September 25th (rest of world).

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About Enrico Pastellio

Rico became a Star Trek fan after being introduced to it during Star Trek Enterprise's run. After finishing that series, he went back watching TNG, DS9, VOY, and most of the movies. He's a big fan of Star Trek (2009) for its action, but favors the cerebral nature of each tv series. When Rico first heard about the new Star Trek Discovery series (then just know as 'Star Trek'), he immediately wanted to start up a new site about the show. You can email him at